Although texting while driving is already banned in many states, one state is considering taking this safety measure to the next level. Nevada could potentially pass a legislation which would grant law enforcement officers the ability to search through drivers’ cell phone usage history after a car crash.
Known as the “Textalyzer,” this new device works by connecting to the device and analyzing recent activity, such as opening social media apps like Facebook messenger. The Textalyzer was developed by the Israeli company Cellebrite.
“When I was growing up, drunk driving was a joke. Now it’s not a joke. Device use is a joke. Make it so it’s not funny.” — Ben Lieberman, father of 19-year-old who was killed by a texting driver
With the announcement of possible implementation of this new technology, there are rising apprehensions regarding the security of private and personal data. This breach of data could potentially violate the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unlawful search and seizure. However, a law professor from Ohio State University argues that procuring data from cellphones after a car crash qualifies as “minimally intrusive” and does not violate the Fourth Amendment. Cellebrite ensures that the Texalyer neither accesses nor stores any personal data. Analysts from the American Civil Liberties Union suggest that the software should be open sourced so that the public can verify that no personal data is accessed.
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The Textalyzer is not currently being used by any law enforcement agencies. If the Nevada legislation passes, it would then be tested in the field before widespread use. An amendment has been made to the original proposal, stating that officials would need to obtain a search warrant to examine the cellphones of drivers who refused to surrender access. Technically, police are already able to obtain search warrants for cellphones after a car crash. However, John Whetsel, former sheriff of Oklahoma County, OK, states that obtaining search warrants after crashes is not yet a consistent practice among agencies.
Advocates of the implementation of the Texalyzer technology point out that the detail of phone records that are currently in use are only able to obtain a small snippet of information. Even with a search warrant, police are still unable to view the usage of various mobile apps such as social media, games, and internet browsing history. Advocate of the Nevada legislation and Democratic Assemblywoman Michelle Gorelow states that the Texalyzer would only detect active motions, such as swiping or typing.
“It’s like a Breathalyzer that only detects tequila,” — Michelle Gorelow
Distracted driving is still a relatively new issue, and there remains much to be studied concerning the behaviors and hazards it presents. According to Illinois police chief Steven Casstevens, “If you’re the at-fault driver and you cause the crash because you’re talking on your cellphone, you’re likely not to admit it.” Instances such as these lead law enforcement experts to say with confidence that distracted driving statistics are severely underreported.
So what does this mean for Texans? If the legislation passes in Nevada, New York could be next to follow suit. Westchester County, NY is considering a similar legislation to condone law enforcement use of the Texalyzer technology for their own car crash investigations. Texas could be voting on its own version of this legislation in the future, possibly sooner than you think.
If you are injured as the result of a negligent or intoxicated driver, reach out to The Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm. After more than 30 years representing injury victims in car wrecks, truck wrecks, and motorcycle accidents, the experienced team of DFW car accident attorneys at Reyes Browne Reilley have seen the consequences of negligence first-hand. If you have sustained injuries because of a car wreck which was not your fault, contact us now for a free and confidential case review. Fill out our form online, or call 214-526-7900, and we will get you on the road to recovery.